On the day of his retirement, a senior surgeon at the civic-run KEM Hospital performed a rare, life-saving surgery on a 52-year-old resident of West Bengal, who had damaged her food pipe after consuming acid. Dr Anil Gwalani, former head of the department of surgery, used part of a woman's intestine to function like a food pipe.


Patient Sushmita Roy damaged her food pipe after consuming poison

Sushmita Roy, name changed, had tried to commit suicide in August, when she was incorrectly diagnosed with cancer. Roy didn't want to be a burden on her family, and hence, consumed acid. While the doctors save Roy's life, her food pipe and vocal cords nerves were badly damaged.

When medical examinations later revealed that Roy didn't have cancer, she regretted her decision. "I was discharging blood, so when I consulted doctors at my hometown, they asked me to do a biopsy. Fearing the worst, I consumed acid. However, later, I got to know that I didn't have cancer. By then, the acid had spoiled my food pipe," said Roy.

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Due to her condition, Roy was unable to eat or drink for several days. The family consulted doctors at several hospitals in West Bengal, but were unable to afford the cost of treatment. Later, they were referred to KEM Hospital for her treatment.

After examining her case, Dr Gwalani decided to use part of her intestine and connected it with the damaged food pipe, so that the oesophagus could be used to ingest food again. "This is a rare surgery as there are several medical complications associated with it," he said.


One of Roy's relatives with her at the hospital

Explaining the process further, the doctor said, "It is challenging to cut the intestine while maintaining the required pressure of blood flow. Also, we have to be careful about the measurements of the intestine, which is connected to the pipe," he said.

Incidentally, it was Dr Gwalani's last surgery before retirement. "I wanted to save her life and that was priority," he said. He has also written about the rare surgery process in the international Journal of Surgery.

The patient has finally started consuming food in semi-liquid form. She will take another two to three weeks to recover completely.